This week’s challenge has to do with getting to know what Real Meat is. Obviously, if you are a vegetarian or vegan this week’s challenge does not apply to you. For the rest of us, this week’s challenge is all about having a healthy relationship with meat. Most Americans are raised to eat in a meat and potatoes manner. We fill our plates with a large serving of meat, a potato or other starch, and if we are really healthy we will have a vegetable or salad. I’m here to tell you………that is not the only or healthiest way to eat.
For starters, this week try planning meals that include meat only 3 or 4 times. Pasta doesn’t always need meat, nor does pizza. Is that a surprise to you? Americans are obsessed with protein and most of us aren’t happy unless we get our meat. It really isn’t necessary though. Another way you can think of meat is to use it as an ingredient rather than the focal point of your meal. Favorite non-meat focused meals in our house include macaroni and cheese, burritos, soups and stir-fry. We’ve talked a lot about reducing our overall sugar consumption. Let’s now start to reduce our overall meat consumption. As my youngest likes to remind me, “We are omnivores Mommy. That means we eat both meat and plants.” While that may be true, it doesn’t mean that we have to eat equal amounts of meat and plants. When we reduce our meat consumption, that leaves more room on our plates for other nutrient rich fruits and vegetables.
Step 1…………….. is reducing our meat consumption. Step 2………………. is choosing meats that will have the most nutrition possible. You won’t find that nutrition by eating traditional “factory farmed” meats. I don’t want to have an animal rights discussion right now. I’ll save that for another day. Let’s just say, that the amount of nutrition that we receive from the animals we eat, is based on what they eat themselves. If an animal is allowed to eat a healthy diet, is free of antibiotics, and growth hormones, we will be healthier as well. Explore your meat counters and butcher shops and find meats that are free of added chemicals, antibiotics and growth hormones. Just a hint………..you will find this when you purchase organic meats. Another way to find healthy and nutrient dense meats is to buy from your local farmer. If you buy from a farmer you know, you can ask the necessary questions. Do you use growth hormones? What do your animals eat? We should all know the answers to these questions, before we consume meat.
A word on lunch meat. Be careful. Lunch meats are a staple in many lunchboxes, but not all that are available are really meat. Many lunch meats are loaded with tons of salt and fillers. Be on the lookout for chemical preservatives, corn syrup and emulsifiers. There are also different types of lunch meats. There are whole cuts of meats where turkey or roast beef is simply sliced. There are also sectioned and formed cuts of meat. They are chunks of meat that are formed together into one piece of meat. The final type is what we call sausages. This is where meat is ground up and mixed together with seasoning and then cut into slices. Bologna is an example of this. The latter two are more likely to be filled with non-Real Food chemicals and additives.
Now it is your turn. What are you favorite non-meat centered meals? How many times a week do you eat meat? Do you like to eat it at every meal or just a few? I’d love to hear from you. This has been one of the most difficult changes for my meat-loving boys. They are adapting, but there have been plenty of complaints along the way. My daughter thinks she could be a vegetarian…………if it weren’t for bacon. Most days I only eat meat at dinner and these days, that’s not even every dinner. I’ve found that meatless meals help me stretch my budget. I still get plenty of protein in my diet so I feel great.
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